Clean Those Teeth!

by Jim Harrington

Ever gotten close to your favorite four-legged friend and gotten a whiff of something nasty?!  Similar to how our mouths function, pet bad breath typically stems from anaerobic bacteria that thrives in areas such as gums and in between teeth.  Once that bacteria transforms into plaque and accumulates, that wonderful stank becomes more noticeable.

A combination of patience and a willing pet can enable teeth to get brushed.  Generally, dogs are a bit easier to do teeth cleaning than cats.  Most dogs feel more of a need to please and bond.  A cat’s mouth is typically smaller and their teeth are also smaller and sharper – plus they choose when they feel like engaging with their human.

Brushing is an unnatural act for your pet, especially since they also cannot rinse, spit or floss on their own.  If your pets (or you) get too stressed by trying to utilize some of the traditional oral hygiene approaches, it may be best to consider alternative products.  Take a ride to your favorite pet store and you’ll see the ever-expanding teeth cleaning options that are available.  Products range from special chew toys and ropes to hard treats and cookies.  If none of those work, you can also ask your veterinarian about special foods and diets that support good oral health.

Make sure you do NOT use human toothpaste though…  the foaming action and an inability to spit leaves only one option for our furry friends – they swallow it.  Once that happens, plan on an upset tummy – or worse.  If your pet cooperates with the brushing concept, be sure to purchase a foamless flavored gel specially designed for animals.  These gels are safe for pets to swallow.  Brushing once a day should be sufficient to maintain good oral health for your dog or cat.

Lastly, be aware that oral care products for animals are not specifically regulated by any federal agency.  The FDA does provide some general oversight of products that make claims of cleaner teeth, fresher breath, etc, but it doesn’t do specific testing.

Woof!

Ticks

by Randi Case (originally published on mendhamchester-online.com)  

Tick tock goes the summertime clock!  As summer rolls in and activities go outdoors we need to be cautious about ticks.  In rural areas like ours that are heavily wooded, ticks are very common.

Ticks are not jumping insects.  Instead, they climb grasses and trees and hitch a ride on passers-by.  Different species of ticks prefer different hosts – dogs, cats, humans.  Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme Disease, which can infect the host when the tick attaches.  The tick feeds on the blood from the host and can then transmit disease.

The best prevention against ticks is to use a product that specifically targets ticks.  These products may include spot on products and collars.  Speak to your veterinarian about which option is best for your pets.

It is also important to carefully examine yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.  With the proper precautions, outdoor time with your pet can be a wonderful bonding experience without the worry of unwanted insect hitchhikers!

Randi is the owner of Caring for Animals in Mendham, NJ.  Visit caringforanimalsnj.com for a description of the pet sitting and animal chiropractic solutions we offer in Morris County (NJ)…

Got Food?

by Randi Case (originally published on mendhamchester-online.com)

One thing that dogs are good at is sniffing out a good meal.  Often, however, that meal is the sandwich that is sitting on the counter or the leftovers on the dinner table.  Eating “scraps” is a bad habit that is all too common.  Here are a few tips to keep the paws on the floor and off the counters…

First, “exercise is a ‘quick fix’ for many annoying dog habits”, says Justine Shuurman, owner of The Family Dog.  She recommends twenty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a day “until his tongue is hanging out of the side of his mouth.”  This will leave the dog tired and less likely to look for mischief in the kitchen.

Second, don’t give him the opportunity to find anything yummy where he snoops.  If the dog is rewarded by a tasty morsel, he’ll be back for more.  Best practice, Justine recommends, “If the food is THERE, the dog is AWAY.  If the food is AWAY, the dog can be THERE.”

Third, have the dog work for their food.  Pet stores often have ‘Dog Puzzles’ that keep the dogs engaged.  A kong, a kibble nibble, or a tug-a-jug give the dog a mission.  Dogs love this!  It also tires them out.

Finally, if you have a persistent pincher with years of food hijacking, it may be time to call in a PRO.  Go to the CCPT.ORG website to find a certified dog trainer near you.  Persistence, consistency, and a good trainer will help both you and your dog live happy, healthy lives…  Woof!